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News / Clark County News

Man convicted of first-degree manslaughter in fatal shooting of wife

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: December 6, 2018, 4:12pm
2 Photos
Todd Marjama Jr. listens to the jury's verdict with his attorneys in his murder trial Thursday afternoon, Dec. 6, 2018, in Clark County Superior Court. Marjama was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and acquitted of first-degree assault.
Todd Marjama Jr. listens to the jury's verdict with his attorneys in his murder trial Thursday afternoon, Dec. 6, 2018, in Clark County Superior Court. Marjama was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and acquitted of first-degree assault. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A Clark County Superior Court jury on Thursday found Todd Marjama Jr. guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of his wife, opting for the lesser charge over first-degree murder.

Jurors deliberated for about five hours before handing down the verdict. Marjama sat mostly stone-faced as the verdict was read aloud; his attorney, Katie Kauffman of Vancouver Defenders, whispered to him.

Marjama, 29, shot and killed Amanda Marjama on June 28, 2016, at their home in Five Corners. The defense and prosecution agreed a single bullet was fired and killed Amanda Marjama, but they were at odds as to whether Todd Marjama fired his revolver intentionally.

“I think we’re happy with (the verdict), and I think the client is happy with it. It’s a lot better than anything offered pre-trial,” Kauffman said afterward. “He has definitely taken accountability.”

Kauffman said Marjama maintains that the shooting was accidental but that he “recognizes it was an accident he is criminally responsible for. For a long time, he’s said he messed up and was negligent in handling the weapon.”

Marjama and his defense attorneys argued that he was attempting to decock a handgun when it discharged — the bullet piercing through the man’s hand and a closed bathroom door before striking Amanda Marjama in the head.

Deputy Prosecutor Luka Vitasovic argued that Todd Marjama intentionally shot his wife during a heated argument and tried to make it look like an accident. He declined to comment following the verdict.

Marjama was originally charged with first-degree murder. However, the prosecution proposed a lesser-included charge of first-degree manslaughter, and the defense proposed second-degree manslaughter in the jury instructions — meaning if the jury could not agree on murder, it could consider manslaughter.

The jury acquitted Marjama of first-degree assault. That charged stemmed from his daughter being inside the bathroom when his wife was shot. The defense had presented evidence that Marjama didn’t know the girl was in there when the gun went off.

Jurors also found a deadly weapon enhancement, which will tack on five years, to run consecutively, to whatever sentence Marjama receives, and an aggravating factor — the offense was domestic violence-related — which allows for the judge to sentence outside the standard range. Marjama, who has no prior criminal history, faces 11½ to 13½ years in prison, with the deadly weapon enhancement.

He will be sentenced Dec. 20.

On the night of the shooting, Clark County sheriff’s deputies were called to a weapons disturbance at the couple’s home, 7312 N.E. 109th Ave.

Family members heard a gunshot from the master bedroom and found Todd Marjama sitting on the edge of the bed holding a revolver, according to an affidavit of probable cause. His left hand was bleeding profusely.

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Thinking Marjama had shot himself, Amanda Marjama’s brother was going to drive him to a hospital. But as they were getting ready to leave, another relative came running from the home, yelling that Amanda Marjama had been shot and killed, according to testimony presented at the nearly two-week trial.

Todd Marjama ran from the scene but was arrested a few blocks away at a neighbor’s house.

At the time of the shooting, Marjama was dating and living with another woman. He was frustrated that his wife refused to sign divorce papers and upset that she was talking to another man and had him over at the house, the attorneys said.

He pulled out the handgun and threatened to shoot himself. The argument moved to the master bedroom, where Amanda Marjama locked herself inside the bathroom and Todd Marjama threatened to break down the bathroom door, according to the attorneys.

Kauffman told the jury during her closing argument Wednesday that Marjama had no way of knowing where his wife was standing behind a closed door to be able to shoot her in the head. But Vitasovic argued that Amanda Marjama had just unlocked the door so her husband knew where to shoot.